When I lived in Spain a few years back, I met heaps of fellow surf-lovers. But when I shared my penchant for the amazing Irish waves, they looked at me like I had ten heads. Ireland, a surfing mecca?
Many people are surprised when I tell them, that we do, in fact, surf in Ireland! The water may not be nearly as warm as it is in Spain (truth to be told, it is pretty damn cold), but Ireland happens to be one of the best places for surfing in Europe. Now, a thick wetsuit, and depending on the time of year, booties, gloves and a hood are necessities; you don’t want to become a walking ice cube!
So here’s Nitelife’s favourite places to surf in Ireland:
Inch beach in Co. Cork must be one of the most beautiful beaches I have ever seen. If you’re driving from Limerick City, it’ll take roughly 2.5 hours. Be warned, though: this beach is quite hard to find. Be sure to leave the house quite early to give yourself extra time and get the best out of your surfing excursion. However, once you make it there safely, I assure you will have a splendid time at this beach. It’s especially good for beginners as this is an enclosed beach and the waves are not as harsh. But don’t let that put off the more advanced among ye. The Swell Surf School will provide the safest and most fun environment to ensure you enjoy learning to surf.
My favourite beach in Co. Kerry is Castlegregory, the longest one in Ireland. As gorgeous as it is, don’t walk barefoot – there’s plenty of stones. Again, from Limerick city, it’s about 2 hours. This is the location we usually went to when I was still part of the surfing club at my university. This beach is suitable for any level of ability. It is especially good for beginners as the waves are not as rough in this area. We had lots of Erasmus students joining our surf club who had never surfed before, and they seemed to get the most out of their experience at this beach. And it’s a stone’s throw from Killarney and Tralee – two of Ireland’s favourite tourist towns.
Strandhill beach in Co. Sligo is a hugely popular surfing location, but due to its strong currents and tides, it’s recommended for only experienced surfers. The strong waters by this beautiful stretch of beach help create larger waves, perfect for a wet and wild weekend. There are also some stunning scenic walks in the area, and breathtaking mountain views. If you’re making a weekend out of it, why not check out the bars in Strandhill village and the nearby Sligo town.
Lahinch beach is my number one place to go surfing. Not only is it easily accessible from Galway, Dublin, and Limerick, but it’s also suitable for any skill level. There are few surf schools located on this beach if you decide to take a lesson, like Ben’s Surf Clinic and John McArthy’s Surf School. Lessons will set you back around 30 quid on average for two hours. However, if you already have some experience, they rent out wetsuits and surfboards for two hours, for only 15 quid. Lahinch is also a popular camping spot if you wish to stay over.
All I can say is, do not let the Irish weather discourage you from trying something new. Believe me when I say that surfing is very addictive and next Christmas you will be asking Santa for a surfboard! Happy surfing!